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Archive for April, 2010

PFR On Twitter and Facebook

Posted by Sean on April 28, 2010

If you are a fan of the PFR blog, please consider:

1) Liking us on FaceBook, or
2) Following us on Twitter.

We post all of our blog updates to these sites, so you'll never need to miss a post.

Comments Off | Posted in P-F-R News

Checkdowns: Raiders Preparing to Cut Russell

Posted by Neil Paine on April 28, 2010

According to ESPN, the Oakland Raiders are on the verge of releasing QB JaMarcus Russell, the #1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, following a 3-year stint in which Russell was 7-18 as a starter and posted only 3.9 Adjusted Net Yards/Att., the worst mark in the league over that span. To commemorate Russell's epic fail, here's the most depressing video you'll see all day:

41 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

2010 NFL Draft Recap, Part II

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 27, 2010

Part I

Miami Dolphins

1.28 (28) Jared Odrick (DT-Penn State) 6'5"-304
2.8 (40) Koa Misi (DE-Utah) 6'3"-251
3.9 (73) John Jerry (OT-Mississippi) 6'5"-328
4.21 (119) A.J. Edds (LB-Iowa) 6'4"-246
5.14 (145) Nolan Carroll (CB-Maryland) 5'11"-204
5.32 (163) Reshad Jones (SS-Georgia) 6'1"-214
7.5 (212) Chris McCoy (DL-Middle Tennessee State) 6'4"-244
7.45 (252) Austin Spitler (LB-Ohio State) 6'3"-234

Odrick was a perfect fit of need meets value: he was considered the best 3-4 defensive end in the draft and was projected to go in the early-to-mid twenties. After trading down with the Chargers, Miami was fortunate to get a player like Odrick at the end of the first. Miami lost Joey Porter and Jason Taylor in the off-season, and had an obvious need at outside linebacker: Misi may have been a reach at #40, but he could be an immediate starter as a 3-4 OLB for the Dolphins. He's a pass rusher with solid coverage skills, although he didn't rack up big sack totals at Utah. Jerry was an All-SEC first team and uses his huge frame to punish defenders in the running game. Jerry was a four-year starter at guard and tackle, and is a natural fit for a power running team like the Dolphins. His brother, Peria, was the Falcons first round pick in 2009. Edds was a strong pick in the 4th round; he was considered by some as the top strongside linebacker in the draft. He'll likely play SILB across from Karlos Dansby (WILB) in Miami's 3-4 defense. He could develop into one of the faster and better coverage 3-4 inside linebackers in the league. Jones was one of the better safeties in the draft; he came out as a junior and performed well at the combine. He surprisingly slid to the fifth, and might start immediately for Miami after they cut last year's starting free safety, Gibril Wilson.

Minnesota Vikings

2.2 (34) Chris Cook (CB-Virginia) 6'2"-212
2.19 (51) Toby Gerhart (RB-Stanford) 6'0"-231
4.2 (100) Everson Griffen (DE-Southern Cal) 6'3"-273
5.30 (161) Chris Degeare (OT-Wake Forest) 6'4"-325
5.36 (167) Nathan Triplett (LB-Minnesota) 6'3"-250
6.30 (199) Joe Webb (WR-UAB) 6'3"-223
7.7 (214) Mickey Shuler (TE-Penn State) 6'4"-251
7.30 (237) Ryan D'Imperio (LB-Rutgers) 6'2"-230

The Vikings surprised everyone by not "pulling an Aaron Rodgers" and drafting the heir apparent for Brett Favre: Jimmy Clausen seemed like a steal for Minnesota at 34, but the Vikings went in another direction with Chris Cook. With the Saints, Packers and Cowboys loaded at wide receiver -- Minnesota's three biggest competitors -- you can understand the need for more cornerbacks. Cook elevated his stock at the combine after running a 4.43; cornerbacks with his height and speed aren't easy to find, even if Cook's play wasn't always elite with the Cavaliers. If Minnesota surprised people by not taking Clausen, they shocked people by drafting Gerhart. But with Chestor Taylor now in Chicago, Gerhart makes sense for Minnesota. In some ways, Peterson is going to replace Taylor and Gerhart will replace Peterson; before, Taylor was the third-down back but now that should be Peterson. As a result, the Vikings may give him more breathers on earlier downs and short-yardage situations, which is where Gerhart excels. For fantasy football players, Adrian Peterson owners won't like that Minnesota just drafted a guy who scored 27 touchdowns last season. But he should extend Peterson's career and give the Vikings another option if ADP develops another case of the fumbles. Griffen was viewed by some as a first round pick, and his slide in the draft was one of the more intriguing topics. He has elite talent as a pass rusher but was plagued by inconsistency and a reputation for taking plays off; with Ray Edwards and Jared Allen in front of him, Griffen is a high upside luxury pick the Vikings could afford. He may also replace Pat Williams on passing downs to improve the Vikings' interior pass rush. Joe Webb was one of the intriguing prospects in this year's class; the former QB at UAB will play receiver in the NFL. He's got great size and played well at the Senior Bowl after the position switch; he'll probably see some time as a Wildcat QB, as well. In his only game of his career against the Vikings, Mickey Shuler caught three passes for 80 yards and a touchdown in 1982; in the 7th round, the Vikings selected his son, Mickey Shuler, Jr. The younger Shuler followed his father at Penn State, and is mostly a blocking tight end.

For Vikings fans longing for a QB of the future, Minnesota may have addressed that situation after the draft with the signing of Ryan Perrilloux. For those unfamiliar with his background, Perriloux was the all-world recruit who came to LSU as the heir apparent to JaMarcus Russell. Perrilloux was named the 2004 USA Today High School Player of the Year and won the 2004 Hall Trophy, the Heisman Trophy award for High School players (Adrian Peterson had won the award in 2003). Perrilloux's career in Baton Rouge was roughly comparable to Russell's career... in Oakland. But as Cecil Lammey notes, after resurrecting his career at Jacksonville State, Perriloux still has the enormous potential that college scouts fell in love with. He'll have to compete with Tarvaris Jackson to make the roster, another quarterback from an FCS school in Alabama.

10 Comments | Posted in NFL Draft

2010 NFL Draft Recap, Part I

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 25, 2010

Didn't have time to follow all three rounds of the draft? Want to know whom your team selected and how their draft plans fit into their overall philosophy? Today and tomorrow, we'll take a look at what each team did in the draft. First, the Arizona Cardinals through the Kansas City Chiefs; tomorrow, the Miami Dolphins to the Washington Redskins.


Arizona Cardinals

1.26 (26) Dan Williams (DT-Tennessee) 6'2"-327
2.15 (47) Daryl Washington (LB-TCU) 6'2"-230
3.24 (88) Andre Roberts (WR-Citadel) 5'11"-195
4.32 (130) O'Brien Schofield (DE-Wisconsin) 6'2"-221
5.24 (155) John Skelton (QB-Fordham) 6'5"-243
6.32 (201) Jorrick Calvin (DB-Troy) 5'11"-184
7.26 (233) Jim Dray (TE-Stanford) 6'5"-246

Arizona was fortunate to land the draft's best nose tackle with the 26th pick. The Cardinals play a hybrid 3-4 defense but always lacked that big body in the middle; Williams could help the defense remain solid despite losing Antrel Rolle to the Giants and Karlos Dansby to the Dolphins. TCU's Washington was considered better than his pass rushing teammate Jerry Hughes (Colts) by some scouts, and he was projected as a first rounder in more than a few mocks. Andre Roberts was a favorite of internet scouts and had been rapidly moving up draft boards. He may have only played at the Citadel but scouts love his potential. Some fantasy football players were disapointed to see a potential sleeper pick like Roberts land in WR-heavy Arizona. John Skelton was considered a poor man's Joe Flacco by most draft observers; he's got great size and a rocket arm, but his small school status means he's a project quarterback. Skelton became the first Fordham player drafted in over 40 years. The Cards passed on Clausen with the 47th pick, so we can assume they are content with Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson at the QB position; Skelton may be a long-term answer but he's not going to compete for the starting job in 2010. Arizona also signed Max Hall (QB, BYU) and Alphonso Smith (RB, Kentucky) after the draft.

Atlanta Falcons

1.19 (19) Sean Weatherspoon (LB-Missouri) 6'1"-239
3.19 (83) Corey Peters (DT-Kentucky) 6'3"-300
3.34 (98) Mike Johnson (OG-Alabama) 6'5"-312
4.19 (117) Joe Hawley (OG-UNLV) 6'3"-297
5.4 (135) Dominique Franks (CB-Oklahoma) 5'11"-194
5.34 (165) Kerry Meier (WR-Kansas) 6'2"-224
6.2 (171) Shann Schillinger (S-Montana) 6'0"-199

Weatherspoon filled a need for the Falcons and looks like one of the safer (if not flashier) picks of the first round. The Falcons added a lot of bulk to their team in the middle rounds, selecting over 900 pounds of beef for their lines with three straight picks. Last year's first round pick, Peria Jerry, missed nearly the entire '09 season with a knee injury, so grabbing Peters provides insurance against Jerry failing to succeed. Johnson and Hawley could be interior starters for the Falcons soon, as C Todd McClure is 33 and neither starting guard has a long-term contract. Atlanta signed Dunta Robinson from Houston in the off-season, but traded up for Franks in the fifth round. As a Sooner, you know he's got great athleticism, although some question his dedication to tackling. Atlanta did not do much at the skill positions in this draft, taking only Kerry Meier, a former QB who caught 102 passes last season. He'll be a WR/TE/H-Back in the NFL.

8 Comments | Posted in NFL Draft

Analysis of the first round trades

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 23, 2010

See Also: PFR Draft Tools

After one round of the 2010 draft, it's way, way, way too early to make any conclusions. Taylor Mays, Jimmy Clausen and Sergio Kindle haven't even been selected yet. No one knows how Tim Tebow will turn out. And whether or not that additional 4th round pick turns out to be Jared Allen or Ryne Robinson remains to be seen. But caution doesn't stop anyone else from analyzing the NFL draft, so why should it stop me? Let's take a look at the seven trades made tonight.

1) San Francisco moves up from #13 to #11, and gives up the 113th pick in the draft.

Historical: #13 and #113 for #11

For Denver, this was a no brainer; the Broncos' (as we later saw) draft board differed from that of most teams, and a trade down came with no risk; the players they wanted would be there later. According to the Jimmy Johnson pick value chart (JJ PVC), moving up from #13 to #11 is worth about 100 points, or the 100th pick in the draft. According to the PFR pick value chart (PFR PVC), trading up from #13 to #11 should only cost around a 7th round pick. The Broncos got a steal by risking nothing and picking up a free fourth rounder. For the 49ers, they probably paid market value (but in my view, overpaid); the bigger question is, 'why?' The 49ers traded up to take LT Anthony Davis from Rutgers, but it doesn't look like either Denver or Miami at #12 were targeting Davis. Miami was almost certainly going defense or wide receiver, and even if the Dolphins unexpectedly took Davis, Bryan Bulaga (Iowa) appeared to have been a more than suitable replacement. This is especially true for a team with Joe Staley on the left side, as some view Bulaga as only capable of playing on the right side. Great move by Denver, but a very questionable move by the 49ers, who paid a heavy price for the right to choose.

2) San Diego moves up from #28 by trading linebacker Tim Dobbins and the 40th pick to get to #12; they also get the #173 pick (6th round), and a 16 spot bump (from #126 to #110) in the 4th round.

Historical: #28, #40, and #126 for #12, #110, and #173

6 Comments | Posted in NFL Draft

Checkdowns: Blogging the Boys Draft Articles

Posted by Jason Lisk on April 22, 2010

One.Cool.Customer at the Dallas Cowboys focused website "Blogging the Boys" has been doing some fantastic work on the draft, in part using some of the Approximate Value information from this site. In "The NFL Draft by Numbers: Do the Cowboys Draft Well", you can find historical draft class data since 1980, with some cool charts that show the 1983, 1993 and 1996 draft classes as the best since 1980. In the most recent post, "The NFL Draft by Numbers: Do drafts build championships?, the focus is on examining how performance in the draft correlates to wins and losses over the last decade. Even if you are not a Dallas fan, I think it is some good work that you can appreciate.

1 Comment | Posted in Approximate Value, Checkdowns

Two More PFR Draft-Related Tools

Posted by Neil Paine on April 20, 2010

I know I said yesterday's post would be the last in our series on PFR Draft Tools, but I remembered that there are two more features you should be aware of:

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled Massey-Thaler discussion...

2 Comments | Posted in NFL Draft, Site Features

Reviving fallen franchises

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 20, 2010

There are six franchises in the NFL that have met the following criteria in each of the past two seasons:

  • Five or fewer wins; and
  • An SRS grade of -4.0 or worse

You can probably guess those teams: the Rams, the Lions, the Chiefs, the Raiders, the Seahawks and the Browns. In this year's draft, they hold the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 8th, 6th, and 7th picks, respectively. These teams, unsurprisingly, have almost all undergone a regime change: the Rams (Steve Spagnuolo), Lions (Jim Schwartz), Chiefs (Todd Haley) and Browns (Eric Mangini) brought in new coaches last season; this off-season, the Browns also brought in Mike Holmgren to be the team's President and the Seahawks picked Pete Carroll up from USC to be the head coach and executive vice-president. Only the Raiders haven't made a regime change, and well, they're the Raiders.

The other spot where bad teams usually overhaul is the quarterback; true to form, the Rams (Sam Bradford this week, by nearly all accounts), the Lions (Matthew Stafford last season), the Chiefs (Matt Cassel last year), the Seahawks (Charlie Whitehurst last month) and the Browns (for better or worse, Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace aren't Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn) have chosen to make big changes at the highest profile position. Only the Raiders haven't changed QBs, and well, they're the Raiders. Even in Oakland, though, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye or Kyle Boller (again, for better or worse) at least have a chance to unseat JaMarcus Russell atop the depth chart.

5 Comments | Posted in History, NFL Draft

Lots of good football articles out there

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 19, 2010

Just a quick roundup of today's articles brings a smile to my face -- it's mid-April, and there are a lot of good football articles out there.

Over at the New York Times fifth down blog....

Chris Brown, of smartfootball.com, wrote an excellent, thought-provoking piece on scouting; I agree with a lot of what Chris writes (would I find it excellent if I didn't?). He doubts the ability of most scouts, but he thinks the wisdom of crowds theory means that in the aggregate, scouting ends up working. That jives with my research on AV and the NFL draft and it reminded me of Doug's insane idea three years ago to quit scouting.

Also, my good friends Matt Waldman, Cecil Lammey and Sigmund Bloom of footballguys.com and draftguys.com wrote some great pre-draft articles on subjects ranging from how good is Jonathan Dwyer (if I trust any scout, it's Matt), Ryan Perrilloux's long road back and where will Tim Tebow and other enigmas get drafted.

2 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Draft Tools: Draft Querier

Posted by Neil Paine on April 19, 2010

For the final post in the series on PFR's NFL Draft tools, I wanted to save the best for last... Combining elements of all 3 tools we looked at previously, the Draft Querier Tool is perhaps the ultimate resource when it comes to Draft history. Functioning in a manner similar to our Play Index tools, the Draft Querier allows you to search through the results of every draft with optional criteria for: Draft year, draft team, player position, round #, overall pick #, the player's college conference, draft league, and draft type.

This means that if you wanted to see every player drafted from the Big 12 since 1996, we have it -- as well as every first-round "skill position" player taken in the 60s, every QB ever picked by the Cleveland Browns, 1-3 rounders since 1990 who never played a down in the NFL, defensive players taken with the 1st overall pick, and more.

So go ahead and check it out, be sure to take a look at Sean's 2010 Draft Preview, and enjoy the festivities Thursday night.

Comments Off | Posted in NFL Draft, Site Features

The Best Player Available

Posted by Jason Lisk on April 19, 2010

If you spend any time listening or reading about the draft, you will no doubt be sick of the phrase "best player available". Writers and teams debate drafting for need versus taking the best player regardless of need. General Managers have vague press conferences where they avow to take the best player available. Part of me wants to know exactly who does not want to take the best player available--it's just identifying that player when you are comparing 22 positions that often have different skill sets that is hard. So I decided to take a look at how often teams actually do draft the best available player.

Lots of things can affect the outcome and make the best talent appear like a bad pick, from injuries to scheme to the input of the other teammates in what is a team game where individual statistics reflect more than the individual. Still, the only way I know to objectively test it is to look at the career value, and this seems like a decent exercise for applying Approximate Value.

8 Comments | Posted in Approximate Value, NFL Draft

The WCB Tournament: Los Angeles and Houston Regional Semis and Finals

Posted by Jason Lisk on April 17, 2010

We now turn to the final two regions to get the last two teams in the Final Four of the WCB tournament. Here are the previous results:

the opening round results
the first round results from the Tampa/New Orleans regions
the first round results from the Los Angeles/Houston regions.
the second round results from the Tampa/New Orleans regions
the second round results from the Los Angeles/Houston regions
the regional semis and finals from the Tampa/New Orleans regions

REGIONAL SEMIFINALS

LOS ANGELES REGION
#1 1968 Baltimore Colts vs. #13 1991 Buffalo Bills

The game was a close contest for a quarter and a half. Then, Jerry Logan intercepted a Jim Kelly pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown, to make the score 17-10 in favor of Baltimore. The Colts would never look back. Kelly threw five interceptions (to five different defenders) on the day, and the Baltimore defense held Buffalo to 2 for 12 on third down.

Baltimore 40, Buffalo 17

#2 1992 San Francisco 49ers vs. #6 1967 Oakland Raiders

The first game between these two ended in a flat-footed tie after neither team scored in overtime, so much like old time World Cup Soccer, we just had a replay. In the second game, the 49ers dominated the offensive statistics, but to no avail. Oakland got an opening kickoff return for touchdown to start the game, and then frustrated San Fransisco all day. George Blanda made all three of his field goal attempts, while Mike Cofer missed both of his. The Raiders put the game away with a Clem Daniels touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

Oakland 22, San Fransisco 7

#1 2001 Saint Louis Rams vs. #5 1987 San Francisco 49ers

The Niners get off to a great start, holding Saint Louis to punts in the first quarter, then going to the goal line before getting stuffed inches short on fourth down. The goal line attempt pays off, though, as the Niners sack Warner in the end zone for a safety, then take the next possession and add a touchdown for a 9-0 lead. The Rams continue to struggle offensively, but manage two second quarter field goals by Jeff Wilkins to go to the half at 9-6. In the third quarter, the Rams block a Niners punt to put themselves in good position, but Warner throws an interception two plays later, which results in a Rice touchdown and a decisive 16-6 lead at the end of the third. Well, except that it's the Rams, and the offense finally scored a touchdown to start the quarter with Faulk catching a Warner pass. The Rams still trail 16-13, though, but get near field goal range at the two minute warning. Faulk then breaks a touchdown run to give the Rams a four point lead. The Niners march all the way down the field, getting to the 11 for one final play, but it is intercepted as time expires.

Saint Louis 20, San Fransisco 16

#3 1970 Minnesota Vikings vs. #10 1973 Los Angeles Rams

The Rams went on a 71 yard drive in the first quarter, converting two key third down conversions, and took a 7-0 lead. They had 36 total yards the rest of the game, as the Vikings' defense held McCutcheon and Bertelsen to 21 yards on 20 carries. The Vikings dominated the game from that point on, but couldn't get into the end zone, settling for field goals in the second and third quarter, so the Rams still held the 7-6 lead with one quarter left despite doing nothing offensively. The Vikings finally broke through with a Clint Jones touchdown run in the fourth to take the lead. The Rams gain no first downs after that score, and Minnesota holds on.

Minnesota 15, Los Angeles 7

REGIONAL FINALS

LOS ANGELES REGION
#1 1968 Baltimore Colts vs. #6 1967 Oakland Raiders

This regional final featured the teams that lost Super Bowls II and III, in an AFL versus NFL battle. Defense ended up dominating this game. The Colts and Raiders both got an early field goal, and then there was no scoring until Blanda hit a 54 yard field goal at the halftime gun to give the Raiders a 6-3 lead. The Raiders got the ball first to start the second half, but Lamonica threw an interception that the Colts immediately turned into a Mackey score to take the lead. Lou Michaels then missed two field goals that could have extended the lead, while Blanda hit a third to make it 10-9 entering the fourth. The Colts then went on a key 7-play, 85-yard drive in the early fourth to take a 17-9 lead. In what has to be one of the most questionable coaching decisions of the tournament, John Rauch elects to kick a field goal with 3 minutes left and 4th and 4 at the Baltimore 10. The Raiders did hold the Colts on the ensuing kickoff, but failed to pick up a first down and gave the ball back to Baltimore, who added a late field goal.

Baltimore 20, Oakland 12

HOUSTON REGION
#1 2001 Saint Louis Rams vs. #3 1970 Minnesota Vikings

In what has to be the most interesting stylistic matchup this deep in the tournament, the offensive-minded Rams meet one of the most dominant defenses of all-time. Will the fact that this game is played on the turf help the Greatest Show, or will the Purple People Eaters gobble up Warner and company?

While the Minnesota Defense versus Saint Louis Offense got all the pre-game hype, the Minnesota offense took the opening kickoff and went on an efficient drive capped by a clutch third down touchdown catch by Gene Washington. The Rams offense responded with a good drive, moving the ball to first and goal from the 2. The Vikings defense made a stand, though, holding Faulk out of the end zone on three tries as the Rams' fourth down attempt came up short. The Vikings added a Cox field goal in the second quarter. The Rams were frustrated again after a nice drive, when Az-Zahir Hakim fumbled while trying to stretch for a first down at the Minnesota 17. The Rams got to the Minnesota 35 again right before the half, but Warner was intercepted by Wally Hilgenberg, so Saint Louis was shut out despite three scoring opportunities.

Playing with the lead, the Vikings could go to a heavy dose of Dave Osborn, and he carried the ball three times for 48 yards on the Vikings' first possession, scoring the key touchdown to make it 17-0. From that point on, the Vikings D harrassed Warner and intercepted him once, as Minnesota shuts out the Rams.

Minnesota 20, Saint Louis 0

The Final Four is now set:

1997 Green Bay Packers versus 1967 Los Angeles Rams
1968 Baltimore Colts versus 1970 Minnesota Vikings

In the Final Four installment, I will do a quick blurb on some aspect of each of those four teams, maybe finding an interesting story, or event from the archives, as well as having the final games.

15 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas, Totally Useless

Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy and the Right to Choose

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 16, 2010

A couple of years ago, we asked how valuable was owning the right to choose between Matt Ryan and Brian Brohm. This year, it's almost certain that the Rams will select Sam Bradford with the first overall pick. After that, the Lions will choose among the consensus three best non-QBs in the draft: DT Ndamukong Suh, DT Gerald McCoy and LT Russell Okung. Many observers, myself included, think Suh and McCoy are the two best players in the draft. A few talent evaluators think McCoy is better than Suh, but the majority view Suh as a transcendental, once-in-a-generation player. The Lions get to choose between Suh and McCoy (and Okung) -- how valuable is owning the right to make that decision? The Bucs, it is believed, desperately want Suh and will have to "settle" for McCoy, since Suh appears to be a better fit for Tampa Bay's system (in addition to being the better player). But how likely is it, independent of system, that Suh (if he goes first) ends up being the better pro? The Lions could certainly trade down with the Bucs, enabling Tampa Bay to grab Suh; how cautious should Detroit be in giving up the right to choose?

I looked at all drafts from 1967 (the first common draft between the AFL and NFL) and 2009, and noted how many times two players at the same position were selected within the first four picks. It's happened twenty-two times:

2005, RB: Ronnie Brown (2); Cedric Benson (4)

This case is probably still too close to call. Along with Cadillac Williams, the 5th pick in the draft, these three RBs were supposed to be the next great generation of runners in the NFL. Instead, all of them suffered with injuries, and Benson completely wore out his welcome with off-the-field issues in Chicago. A year ago, all three looked like busts, with Brown probably being the de facto winner. But last year, Williams had a rebirth (1,040 yards from scrimmage) and is healthy entering 2010. Meanwhile, Benson had a career season, building on a strong second half in 2008 by ranking second in the league last season in rushing yards per game (96.2). Brown has probably still been the best of this trio -- he has the highest career YPC, the most career rushing yards, yards from scrimmage and touchdowns. But he's suffered with injuries his whole career, and at this rate, Benson may surpass him before their careers end.

Edge: Incomplete.

16 Comments | Posted in NFL Draft

The WCB Tournament: Tampa and New Orleans Regional Semis and Finals

Posted by Jason Lisk on April 15, 2010

Today, we get into the Regional Semifinals and Finals and find out our first two Final Four teams, and we start with the Tampa and New Orleans Regions. For those who haven't been following along, here are the previous rounds:

the opening round results
the first round results from the Tampa/New Orleans regions
the first round results from the Los Angeles/Houston regions.
the second round results from the Tampa/New Orleans regions
the second round results from the Los Angeles/Houston regions

REGIONAL SEMIFINALS

TAMPA REGION
#12007 New England Patriots vs. #12 1999 Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars did not have to meet the Tennessee Titans, and have been rolling through the bracket as a 12 seed. That came to an end in this game, though. The Jaguars stayed close early, but the Patriots never punted all game. Brady went 24 of 29 and was never sacked. Maroney vultured 3 touchdowns, and the Patriots pulled away with three field goals at the end of the first half and during the third quarter.

New England 37, Jacksonville 20

#6 1997 Green Bay Packers vs. #10 1996 Denver Broncos

In a near-rematch of XXXII, the Denver Broncos jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead. Brett Favre hit Robert Brooks to get Green Bay back in the game, and following an Elam field goal, a William Henderson touchdown reception right before the half brought Green Bay within 3. The only score in the third quarter was another Denver field goal, so Denver held a slim 20-14 lead entering the fourth, with Green Bay on the march. Favre connected with Brooks again early in the fourth to give Green Bay its first lead. After Green Bay held Denver to consecutive three and outs, Favre and Brooks combined for a third touchdown with just over two minutes left. Denver managed to drive for a potential tying score, but Elway's scramble for the goal line in a potential tying conversion came up just short, and the ensuing onside kick failed. Green Bay gets revenge for the Super Bowl loss.

Green Bay 28, Denver 26

NEW ORLEANS REGION
#4 1967 Los Angeles Rams vs. #9 2000 Tennessee Titans

The first two regional semifinals featured lots of offense, but not this one. The defenses combined to yield less than 500 total yards, along with 9 sacks and 5 turnovers. The Rams held on to a slim 10-3 lead throughout most of the game, but McNair rallied the Titans for a tying touchdown inside the final two minutes with a pass to Derrick Mason, which sent the game to overtime. The defensive battle then resumed, as the teams exchanged punts for most of the overtime period. The Rams' defense turned in the play of the game, when reserve linebacker Doug Woodlief etched his name into WCB tourney lore by picking off a tipped McNair pass and returning it inside the 10, setting up Bruce Gossett's game winning field goal.

Los Angeles 13, Tennessee 10

#2 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. #3 1994 Dallas Cowboys

Not all teams in the What Coulda Been Tourney failed to win the title--some are the missing link in what could have been greater immortality. This regional semifinal featured two teams that could have had even greater glory if these seasons had resulted in a win in the conference championship games over teams they had owned in other playoff years. The winner of this matchup would have to be considered one of the favorites to win it all.

Pittsburgh grabbed a 7-3 first quarter lead after a Frank Lewis touchdown. The key point in the game was then a series of plays that resulted in Dallas settling for a field goal after a pass that would have put the ball near the goal line was just out of Jay Novacek's reach, followed by the Pittsburgh possession. The Steelers would not muster a lot of consistent offense on this day, but the big play came two plays after Dallas cut it to 7-6. Bradshaw hit the man who always came up big in big games, Lynn Swann, for a 67 yard touchdown. It was the last points scored all game, as both defenses clamped down in the second half. The Steel Curtain held Emmitt Smith to 52 yards on 27 carries, as Pittsburgh advances to set up a defensive slugfest with the Rams for the New Orleans Region title.

Pittsburgh 14, Dallas 6

TAMPA REGION FINAL

#12007 New England Patriots vs. #6 1997 Green Bay Packers

The Patriots had been rolling through the WCB tournament, but the Packers and Reggie White must have taken lessons from the Giants. The Patriots had to punt on their first three possessions, and when Green Bay scored in the second quarter on a touchdown, and added a field goal on the next drive, they held a 10-0 lead. Brady found Moss right before the half to get on track and cut it at halftime. In the third quarter, Kevin Faulk added the only touchdown to give New England their first lead. A Packers field goal cut it to a one point game, but a Patriots score with about four minutes left gave them the 21-13 advantage.

Surely the Patriots wouldn't lose another close game that they held a late lead? Well, the Packers scored on the play right before the two minute warning, and then hit on the two point conversion to Antonio Freeman coming out of the break. Still, the Patriots had the ball in a tie game with just under two minutes. They moved it to midfield, when LeRoy Butler gambled on jumping a Welker route and turned the game. The Packers then took the ball into scoring range, and scored a touchdown on what may have been a lay down by Belichek in order to get one last desperation chance. The Pats only got two plays off.

Green Bay 28, New England 21

NEW ORLEANS REGION FINAL

#2 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. #4 1967 Los Angeles Rams

With the national media already writing the stories about the 2007 Patriots dynasty versus the 1976 Steelers dynasty in the Final Four, Roman Gabriel had something to say. The Rams jumped to a stunning lead on an 86 yard pass from Gabriel to Bass. On his next pass following a Bleier fumble, Gabriel hit Bernie Casey for a 40 yard score, and the Rams were up 14-0. The Steelers managed to close the gap to 14-10 by halftime, and the score would stay there until the end of the third, when Gabriel connected for his third long touchdown of the game, this one to Billy Truax. The Pittsbugh defense shut down the Rams ground game, but Gabriel's three strikes prove decisive. The Rams defense harrasses Bradshaw all day, and the 1967 Rams move on.

Los Angeles 24, Pittsburgh 10

13 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas, Totally Useless

2010 NFL Draft Preview — It may reduce your enthusiasm

Posted by Sean on April 13, 2010

2010 NFL Draft Preview

We aren't going to scout Suh, Okung, and Bradford for you, but we can show you how the careers of NFL draft picks have played out.

The preview above shows:
*The top six players taken since 1970 at each draft slot along with their Career Approximate Value,
*The average AV at each draft slot for all players,
*The average AV of every retired player taken at that slot and a recent retiree whose AV matches this number,
*Links to a full listing of each team's 1st, 2nd, ... rounders, and
*Links to all of the players selected with the 1st, 2nd, 203rd... picks in the draft.

To be honest, I find the Recent Retiree listing to be a bit depressing. For instance, the Eagles with their haul of picks would expect: Artrell Hawkins, Shaun Williams, Ryan Nece, Kalimba Edwards, Anthony Wright, Tutan Reyes, Milford Brown, Derrick Gibson, Glenn Earl, Rex Tucker and Anthony Maddox in return. I need to watch more football because I haven't heard of one of those guys before now. You can click on the column headers to sort the team column to find your team.

Enjoy and tell your friends if you think they might enjoy this feature.

Please check out our full list of draft features and tutorials.

8 Comments | Posted in Approximate Value, History, NFL Draft

Draft Tools: Search by Position

Posted by Neil Paine on April 13, 2010

As part of our ongoing series on PFR's NFL Draft features, here's another draft tool you may not have seen -- you can also sort all-time draftees by the position they eventually played in the pros. Since the list of drafted players at any given position is pretty huge, we've decided to break up the history of the Draft into 3 eras: 1936-1959, 1960-1979, and 1980-2009. For each of these eras, you can select a position and see every drafted player whose primary NFL position is a match. Let's take an example: say you want to see every wide receiver selected in the Draft since 1980. At the corresponding page, you'll find the full list, alongside their pick #, college, and career stats like All-Pro/Pro Bowl selections, starts, Approximate Value, & traditional Passing/Rushing/Receiving totals. (Note: we apologize that 2009 starts & AV numbers have not been updated yet - we'll try to fix that soon.)

You can see all of the Drafted Players broken down by position here:

Comments Off | Posted in NFL Draft, Site Features

Checkdowns: Another SB MVP leaves town

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 12, 2010

Santonio Holmes earned MVP honors in Super Bowl XLIII with his game-winning, acrobatic touchdown catch with 35 seconds left in the game. But off the field issues inspired Pittsburgh's trade of Holmes to the New York Jets this morning. The price was a paltry 5th round pick in the upcoming 2010 NFL draft. On the other hand, Holmes becomes the fifth former SB MVP to switch teams in his mid-20s, and the other four are among the least accomplished Super Bowl MVPs: Dexter Jackson (in the right place at the right time for Rich Gannon's ducks); Deion Branch (Tom Brady's go-to man in the post-season, but never at any other time or place); Larry Brown (in the right place at the right time for Neil O'Donnell's ducks) and Desmond Howard (kickoff return touchdown provided the icing on the cake over the Pats)

For the Jets, this is the second time in six months that they've traded for a talented but troubled former Big 10 star receiver. The Braylon Edwards trade has been something of a mixed bag, although his production outweighed the small sum the Jets paid to acquire him. For New York, in trading for Holmes, their hoping the worst case scenario is deja vu -- a small sum paid for a talented player. The best case scenario? Another form of deja vu, resembling the last time a troubled Steelers wide receiver came to New York.

3 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Checkdowns: Median draft position vs. 2009 AV

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 8, 2010

Just a quick data dump here; I looked at the 2009 AV numbers (to hit the site soon, I promise) and noted how much AV all players at each position accumulated. I then sorted all of the players by draft position, and noted at what draft spot the median AV was hit. So, for example, roughly half of the AV by all QBs last season came by QBs drafted at #24 or earlier. That is to say, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Alex Smith, Matthew Stafford, Donovan McNabb, Matt Ryan, Vince Young, Philip Rivers, Mark Sanchez, Kerry Collins, Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler, Josh Freeman, Joe Flacco, Brady Quinn and Aaron Rodgers produced about as much value as every other QB in the league last season. Below shows the draft pick # where half of that position's AV was accumulated during the 2009 season:

pos     pick
QB      24
ILB     40
CB      45
T       50
WR      54
RB      55
DE      57
TE      69
OLB     71
DT      77
S       84
G      108
C      173

If there's any surprise here, it's (at least to me) at inside linebacker. But with superstars like Patrick Willis, Jon Beason and Ray Lewis, along with DeMeco Ryans, Jonathan Vilma, A.J Hawk, James Farrior, Jerod Mayo, Takeo Spikes, D.J. Williams and Karlos Dansby, a large number of star inside linebackers were high picks. Only three ILB/MLBs selected outside of the top 40 had 10 points of AV last year or more -- the Bengals' Dhani Jones and the Jets pair of inside 'backers, Bart Scott and David Harris.

10 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns, NFL Draft

Draft Tools: Search by Year

Posted by Neil Paine on April 6, 2010

Continuing our series on PFR's NFL Draft toolbox, today I wanted to show you our section of year-by-year draft listings. These pages include a list of every player taken in the draft for a given year, along with their career stats (including career Approximate Value and Pro Bowl/All-Pro selections). You can sort each column by clicking on the column header, so if you wanted to know who has the most career passing yards among the players taken in the vaunted Class of 1983, just click "Yds" under "Passing", and marvel at the way Todd Blackledge was outpassed by 4 QBs taken beneath him, two of whom ended up as Hall of Famers. Way to go Chiefs!

You can see all of the Drafts broken down by year here:

6 Comments | Posted in NFL Draft, Site Features

WCB tournament, second round, part two

Posted by Jason Lisk on April 6, 2010

Here were the opening round results and the first round results from the Tampa/New Orleans and the Los Angeles/Houston regions. The other half of the second round has been played as well, so let's get to the Los Angeles and Houston Regionals, to set the Sweet 16.

LOS ANGELES REGION SECOND ROUND

#8 1997 Kansas City Chiefs at #1 1968 Baltimore Colts

The Kansas City Chiefs, not realizing that Rich Gannon is on the bench and will soon prove to be better than Grbac, leave Elvis in the building to take 6 sacks and put up 59 net passing yards. Baltimore methodically pulls away with a solid game from Morrall.

Baltimore 21, Kansas City 7

#13 1991 Buffalo Bills at #5 1978 Dallas Cowboys

In what has to be one of the games of the tournament so far, the Cowboys jump out to a 13-0 lead, but do settle for two short field goals. The Bills get one back right before the half, and put up 24 unanswered to take an 11-point lead in the fourth. Captain Comeback then leads two scoring drives as part of a 328 yard, 3 td performance, to give Dallas a 1 point lead with just under two minutes. Thurman Thomas adds to his MVP of the WCB resume, with a 33 yard td run to give Buffalo the victory and keep Scott Norwood on the bench.

Buffalo 30, Dallas 25

#6 1967 Oakland Raiders at #3 1983 Washington Redskins

In a back and forth game that went down to the wire, Lamonica found Biletnikoff for the go-ahead score with about 10 minutes left. Riggins scored with 3:25 left, but the 2-pt conversion attempt failed, and the Raiders were able to hold on for the mild upset.

Oakland 24, Washington 22

#10 1986 Chicago Bears at #2 1992 San Francisco 49ers

Even-year Jerry puts up a hall of fame performance, going for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns. The 49ers pull away late, with Tom Rathman adding the clinching touchdown.

San Francisco 24, Chicago 13

HOUSTON REGION SECOND ROUND

#8 2004 Philadelphia Eagles at #1 2001 Saint Louis Rams

The Eagles got off to a good start, and looked like they would take a lead into the half, with the Rams turning the ball over four times in the half. Then, Bruce took a reverse 45 yards for a touchdown to give the Rams a slim 14-13 lead. After that, it became the Marshall Faulk show, as he scored three touchdowns after halftime as the Rams rolled to the victory.

Saint Louis 38, Philadelphia 23

#5 1987 San Francisco 49ers at #4 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers

In an ugly game where neither team can reach the end zone, Charles Haley sacks a rookie Ben Roethlisberger three times, and Ray Wersching connects on all four field goal attempts.

San Fransisco 12, Pittsburgh 3

#11 2005 Seattle Seahawks at #3 1970 Minnesota Vikings

In a tale of two halves, the Vikings get all the scoring they need in the first half and go into the locker room up 24-0. Seattle claws back and cuts it to 24-17 with just over a minute left, but cannot get any closer. Gary Cuozzo has an efficient game for Minnesota, throwing for nearly 10 yards an attempt and adding a touchdown dive.

Minnesota 24, Seattle 17

#10 1973 Los Angeles Rams at #2 1990 Buffalo Bills

The Rams defense shows up in a big way, and intercepts Jim Kelly five times en route to a methodical victory over the no-huddle Bills.

Los Angeles 18, Buffalo 7

THE SWEET 16 MATCHUPS

#12007 New England Patriots vs. #12 1999 Jacksonville Jaguars

#6 1997 Green Bay Packers vs. #10 1996 Denver Broncos

#4 1967 Los Angeles Rams vs. #9 2000 Tennessee Titans

#2 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. #3 1994 Dallas Cowboys

#1 1968 Baltimore Colts vs. #13 1991 Buffalo Bills

#2 1992 San Francisco 49ers vs. #6 1967 Oakland Raiders

#1 2001 Saint Louis Rams vs. #5 1987 San Francisco 49ers

#3 1970 Minnesota Vikings vs. #10 1973 Los Angeles Rams

I will probably not get back to this until next weekend (for those who have office pools riding on the results) but there should be some fun matchups. Thirteen franchises are still represented, with only the Rams (with two versions of the Los Angeles version and the 2001 Saint Louis team) and the 49ers ('87, '92) still having multiple entries. Breaking down by decade, we have three teams from the late 60's, three more from the 70's, only one from the 80's, six from the 90's, and three from the last decade. I think what I'm going to do is to post the regional semifinals and finals for the Tampa and New Orleans Regions (six games) in one post, the regional semifinals and finals for the Los Angeles and Houston Regions in another post, then follow up with a more in-depth profile of the final four teams, with those three games.

8 Comments | Posted in Insane ideas, Totally Useless

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